Re: Mainline kernel OLTP performance update

From: Pekka Enberg
Date: Mon Jan 19 2009 - 03:05:29 EST

Hi Nick,

On Mon, 2009-01-19 at 18:13 +1100, Nick Piggin wrote:
> SLUB was distinctly slower on the tbench, netperf, and hackbench
> tests that I ran. These were faster with SLUB on your machine?

I was trying to bisect a somewhat recent SLAB vs. SLUB regression in
tbench that seems to be triggered by CONFIG_SLUB as suggested by Evgeniy
Polyakov performance tests. Unfortunately I bisected it down to a bogus
commit so while I saw SLUB beating SLAB, I also saw the reverse in
nearby commits which didn't touch anything interesting. So for tbench,
SLUB _used to_ dominate SLAB on my machine but the current situation is
not as clear with all the tbench regressions in other subsystems.

SLUB has been a consistent winner for hackbench after Christoph fixed
the regression reported by Ingo Molnar two years (?) ago. I don't think
I've ran netperf, but for the fio test you mentioned, SLUB is beating
SLAB here.

On Mon, 2009-01-19 at 18:13 +1100, Nick Piggin wrote:
> What kind of system is it?

2-way Core2. I posted my /proc/cpuinfo in this thread if you're

On Mon, 2009-01-19 at 18:13 +1100, Nick Piggin wrote:
> > So I have very mixed feelings about SLQB. It's very
> > nice that it works for OLTP but we still don't have much insight (i.e.
> > numbers) on why it's better.

On Mon, 2009-01-19 at 18:13 +1100, Nick Piggin wrote:
> According to estimates in this thread, I think Matthew said SLUB would
> be around 6% slower? SLQB is within measurement error of SLAB.

Yeah but I say that we don't know _why_ it's better. There's the
kmalloc()/kfree() CPU ping-pong hypothesis but it could also be due to
page allocator interaction or just a plain bug in SLUB. And lets not
forget bad interaction with some random subsystem (SCSI, for example).

On Mon, 2009-01-19 at 18:13 +1100, Nick Piggin wrote:
> Fair point about personally reproducing the OLTP problem yourself. But
> the fact is that we will get problem reports that cannot be reproduced.
> That does not make them less relevant. I can't reproduce the OLTP
> benchmark myself. And I'm fully expecting to get problem reports for
> SLQB against insanely sized SGI systems, which I will take very seriously
> and try to fix them.

Again, it's not that I don't take the OLTP regression seriously (I do)
but as a "part-time maintainer" I simply don't have the time and
resources to attempt to fix it without either (a) being able to
reproduce the problem or (b) have someone who can reproduce it who is
willing to do oprofile and so on.

So as much as I would have preferred that you had at least attempted to
fix SLUB, I'm more than happy that we have a very active developer
working on the problem now. I mean, I don't really care which allocator
we decide to go forward with, if all the relevant regressions are dealt

All I am saying is that I don't like how we're fixing a performance bug
with a shiny new allocator without a credible explanation why the
current approach is not fixable.

On Mon, 2009-01-19 at 18:13 +1100, Nick Piggin wrote:
> > The good news is that SLQB can replace SLAB so either way, we're not
> > going to end up with four allocators. Whether it can replace SLUB
> > remains to be seen.
> Well I think being able to simply replace SLAB is not ideal. The plan
> I'm hoping is to have four allocators for a few releases, and then
> go back to having two. That is going to mean some groups might not
> have their ideal allocator merged... but I think it is crazy to settle
> with more than one main compile-time allocator for the long term.

So now the HPC folk will be screwed over by the OLTP folk? I guess
that's okay as the latter have been treated rather badly for the past
two years.... ;-)


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